Three-dimensional culture of rat calvarial osteoblasts in porous biodegradable polymers

Susan L. Ishaug-Riley, Genevieve M. Crane-Kruger, Michael J. Yaszemski, Antonios G. Mikos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

431 Scopus citations


Neonatal rat calvarial osteoblasts were cultured in 90% porous, 75:25 poly(DL-lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) foam scaffolds for up to 56 days to examine the effects of the cell seeding density, scaffold pore size, and foam thickness on the proliferation and function of the cells in this three-dimensional environment. Osteoblasts were seeded at either 11.1 x 105 or 22.1 x 105 cells per cm2 onto PLGA scaffolds having pore sizes in the range of 150-300 or 500-710 μm with a thickness of either 1.9 or 3.2 mm. After 1 day in culture, 75.6 and 68.6% of the seeded cells attached and proliferated on the 1.9 mm thick scaffolds of 150-300 μm pore size for the low and high seeding densities, respectively. The number of osteoblasts continued to increase throughout the study and eventually leveled off near 56 days, as indicated by a quantitative DNA assay. Osteoblast/foam constructs with a low cell seeding density achieved comparable DNA content and alkaline phosphatase (ALPase) activity after 14 days, and mineralization results after 56 days to those with a high cell seeding density. A maximum penetration depth of osseous tissue of 220 ± 40 μm was reached after 56 days in the osteoblast/foam constructs of 150-300 μm pore size initially seeded with a high cell density. For constructs of 500-710 μm pore size, the penetration depth was 190 ± 40 μm under the same conditions. Scaffold pore size and thickness did not significantly affect the proliferation or function of osteoblasts as demonstrated by DNA content, ALPase activity, and mineralized tissue formation. These data show that comparable bone-like tissues can be engineered in vitro over a 56 day period using different rat calvarial osteoblast seeding densities onto biodegradable polymer scaffolds with pore sizes in the range of 150-710 μm. When compared with the results of a previous study where similar polymer scaffolds were seeded and cultured with marrow stromal cells, this study demonstrates that PLGA foams are suitable substrates for osteoblast growth and differentiated function independent of cell source.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1405-1412
Number of pages8
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 1998


  • Biodegradable polymer scaffolds
  • Bone tissue engineering
  • Osteoblasts
  • PLGA
  • Poly(DL-lactic-co-glycolic acid)
  • Poly(α-hydroxy esters)
  • Three-dimensional culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials


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